[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/08/art.getty.gun.jpg caption="Has public opinion shifted on gun control?"](CNN) - Has public opinion shifted on gun control?
Yes. And in a very surprising way.
Binghamton . . . Pittsburgh . . . Oakland . . . Samson, Alabama . . . Carthage, North Carolina . . . sensational incidents of gun violence all over the country.
Are we seeing an impact on public opinion?
Since 2001, a majority of Americans has favored stricter gun laws. Though support has been trending slightly down. Eight years ago, 54 percent of Americans wanted stricter gun laws compared to 50 percent in 2007, according to a Gallup poll.
And now? A sharp, sudden drop. Only 39 percent of Americans now favor stricter gun laws.
It may have to do with the President Obama and the new administration.
"If he and the people in control of Congress right now could have what they want, they would heavily restrict or eliminate guns from this country," said Sean Healy, an attorney who has advocated on behalf of gun rights. At the moment, the country is seeing a surge in gun sales.
Or Americans may have heard what the new attorney general said. "There are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstate the ban on the sale of assault weapons," said Attorney General Eric Holder in February.
They may have also heard what the new secretary of state said about the ban.
"I, as a senator, supported measures to try and reinstate it. Politically, that is a very big hurdle in our congress. But there may be some approaches that could be acceptable and we are exploring those," Clinton said in March.
Support for tougher gun laws has held fairly steady among Democrats, but the sharp drop has been among Independents and Republicans, where there are fewer Obama supporters.
Among Republicans, only 33 percent support stricter gun laws now compared to 50 percent in 2007, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. Among independents, support has dropped from 34 percent to 21 percent.
The Gallup poll reveals a gradual, long-term decline in support for gun control from the early 1990s to 2008. That coincides with a decline in the murder rate. But this year's sudden drop seems to be influenced by politics.